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Next-Gen Supply Chain: Connecting IoT Data to the Bottom Line

The rise of the Internet of Things is bringing about a shift in how companies operate.
By Carsten Krause
Oct 29, 2017

Everywhere you look, the Internet of Things is becoming interwoven into our day-to-day lives. We see it in our homes through our thermostats and entertainment systems, as well as in refrigerators, all of which stream data to the internet. This proliferation of the IoT and smart devices in all aspects of life presents companies with new ways of engaging with customers and consumers. That opportunity will only get bigger, according to analyst firm Gartner, which predicts that the number of total connected devices will reach 25 billion by 2020. One industry that is expected to reap tremendous benefits from the IoT is the supply chain.

Beyond the obvious supply chain role of getting connected devices from factories and warehouses into the hands of users, the IoT is part of a new wave of innovation for the global logistics industry, bringing with it a level of efficiency that supply chain professionals from years past would not have experienced. Here is a closer look at how the IoT is ushering in the next-generation supply chain.

Operational Visibility

Before the connected world came to be, manufacturers and their partners made decisions based on data that was days, weeks or even months old. But in today's world, real-time information is driving smarter decisions and more efficient operations. based on up-to-the-second changes in market conditions that give us a better sense of supply and demand and help us anticipate issues with upstream supply chain partners. This saves time, money and resources.

The visibility enabled by the IoT means information can be shared not only in real time, but at every level, thereby allowing deficiencies to be identified quickly so that problems can be immediately rectified, or prevented altogether. Rather than relying on anecdotal information from different teams spread across disparate locations, management can easily access a real-time snapshot of supply chain analytics and make decisions accordingly.

A New Wave of Customer Expectations
Meeting increasing customer demands is one of the primary concerns of the global supply chain and logistics industry, and in the era of instant gratification, the IoT is essential to delivering customer satisfaction. Not only do customers want real-time information regarding where their product is located and how long it will take them to receive it, with companies boasting same-day delivery, consumers' appetites for convenience and instant gratification have drastically increased. With the push of a button, shoppers can have a new iPhone delivered that same day, or have a week's worth of groceries arrive at their doorstep within the hour.

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